History of Walmart - 1980s and 1990s

1980s and 1990s

In 1981, Wal-Mart moved into the southeastern US market, opening stores in Georgia and South Carolina, and acquiring 92 Kuhn's Big K stores. They moved into Florida and Nebraska in 1982.

In April 1983, the company opened its first Sam's Club store, a membership-based discount warehouse club, in Midwest City, Oklahoma. They also opened new Wal-Mart stores in Indiana, Iowa, New Mexico and North Carolina, and implemented "people greeters" in all of their stores. In 1984, they entered the Virginia market.

In 1985, with 882 stores with sales of $8.4 billion and 104,000 associates, the company entered Wisconsin and Colorado, and the first stores in Minnesota opened the following year, in 1986.

By the company's twenty-fifth anniversary in 1987, there were offices to track inventory, sales, and send instant communication to their stores. Continuing their technological upgrades, they had equipped 90% of their stores with barcode readers by 1988, to further assist in keeping track of their large inventory.

In February 1988, company founder Sam Walton stepped down as Chief Executive Officer, and David Glass was named to succeed him. Walton remained on as Chairman of the Corporate Board of Directors, and the company also restructured their senior management positions, elevating a cadre of executives to positions of greater responsibility.

Also in 1988, the first Wal-Mart Supercenter opened in Washington, Missouri. The supercenter concept features everything contained in a standard Walmart discount store, in addition to a tire and oil change shop, optical center, one-hour photo processing lab, portrait studio, and numerous alcove shops such as banks, cellular telephone stores, hair and nail salons, video rental stores, and other fast food outlets.

By 1989, Walmart was operating in 27 states with the addition of Michigan, West Virginia, New Jersey, and Wyoming. By 1990, they entered the markets of California, Nevada, North Dakota, Pennsylvania, South Dakota and Utah. The Walmart Visitor's Center also opened this year on the site of Sam Walton's original store.

The 1990s saw an era of furious growth on an unprecedented scale and the incorporation of several new ideas and technology into the business.

In 1990, US sales had quadrupled to $32 billion over the previous five years and Walmart acquired The McLane Company, a food service distributor, which was later sold to Berkshire Hathaway in 2003.

In 1991, the company moved into the Connecticut, Delaware, Maine, Maryland, Massachusetts, New Hampshire, and New York markets. Walmart entered the international market in this year, with the opening of their first store in Mexico City. They also acquired Western Merchandisers, Inc. of Amarillo, Texas. 1991 also saw the launch of the Sam's American Choice brand of products.

On March 17, 1992 US President George H. W. Bush presented Sam Walton with the Presidential Medal of Freedom. Sam Walton died on April 5, 1992. His eldest son, S. Robson Walton, succeeded him as Chairman of the corporate board of directors, on April 7, 1992. This year, Walmart had a presence in 45 states with the addition of Idaho, Montana, and Oregon, as well as Puerto Rico.

In 1993, the Walmart International Division was formed with Bobby Martin as its president. The company also enters the US markets of Alaska, Hawaii, Rhode Island and Washington. Their stores also achieve the billion-dollar sales mark in one week in December 1993.

In 1994, the National Advertising Review Board challenged the Walmart slogan, "Always the low price. Always," contending that it implied that Walmart's prices were always the lowest and could mislead some shoppers. In response, Walmart adopted a new slogan, "Always low prices. Always."

Also in 1994, the Code Adam program was instituted in Walmart stores. That same year, Walmart acquired 91 PACE Membership Warehouse clubs from Kmart and 122 Woolco stores in Canada in 1994. In addition, it opened 3 value clubs in Hong Kong, and had 96 stores in Mexico.

By 1995, Walmart had 1,995 discount stores, 239 Supercenters, 433 SAM'S CLUBS and 276 international stores with sales at $93.6 billion (including US sales of $78 billion) and 675,000 associates. Walmart entered its 50th state (Vermont), and entered the South American market, with three new units in Argentina and five in Brazil.

The company entered the Chinese market in 1996 through a joint-venture agreement.

In 1997, Walmart replaced Woolworth on the Dow Jones Industrial Average. The company had its first $100 billion sales year, with sales totaling $118.1 billion. Also this year, they acquired 21 Wertkauf stores in Germany, and introduced their OneSource nutrition centers.

In 1998, Walmart introduced the Neighborhood Market concept at three stores in Arkansas. Neighborhood Market stores are predominantly grocery stores, and are meant to attract customers with easier parking, less crowded aisles and quicker checkout. Internationally Walmart enters South Korea by acquiring 4 stores operated by Korea Makro.

Also in 1998, Walmart launched its Wal-Mart Television Network, a vast, in-store advertising network showing commercials for products sold in the stores, concert clips and music videos for a recording artist's media, trailers for upcoming movie releases, and news.

The Asda chain in the United Kingdom became a subsidiary in 1999, and is the second largest chain in the UK after Tesco.

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